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Hot chef Tyler Florence gives Houston a turkey lesson: Don't get up with that bird

Hot chef Tyler Florence gives Houston a turkey lesson: Don't get up with that bird

tyler florence
Tyler Florence doesn't believe that cooking the turkey should be an all-day chore.
Tyler Florence Macy's
Tyler Florence at the Memorial City Macy's. Photo by Marci Gilbert
Tyler Florence wines
Tyler Florence has his own wines now too. Photo by Marci Gilbert
tyler florence
Tyler Florence Macy's
Tyler Florence wines

If you don’t want to wake up at 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning to roast a 12-pound turkey for the next eight hours, Food Network celebrity chef/cookbook author/kitchen heartthrob Tyler Florence, has a quick and flavorful way to share the turkey love with your family this year.

In his sixth cookbook,Tyler Florence Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better, the chef with personality gives stories and recipes for family style meals that can be served to any kind of family — your softball team, your neighbors, or your immediate family. Florence lives in San Francisco where he recently opened his first restaurant, The Wayfare Tavern, and has collaborated on a line of red and white wine with Robert Mondavi. He is also a Food Network veteran of 12 years, hosting How to Boil Water, Food 911, and currently Tyler’s Ultimate andThe Great Food Truck Race, recently picked up for its second season.

On Saturday, Florence was at Macy’s Memorial City for a cooking demonstration and book signing that brought out more than 200 people. He will also be at Central Market on Sunday from 11 a.m.-noon for a cooking demonstration and from 12-2 p.m. for a book signing. He completes his Houston weekend at The Houston Chronicle’s Book and Author dinner on Sunday night.

“For Thanksgiving, you only need to make two dishes really well,” Florence said at Macy's. “Host a potluck dinner so your guests share the responsibility. Then each dish has a culturally rich history and it’s fun to share stories in your home.”

For your turkey, Florence recommends deconstructing it to shorten the cooking time and avoid ending up with a dried-out bird.

“It really makes no sense that we roast a turkey to cook through to the bones,” Florence said. “You end up with a dry turkey and you throw the bones away.”

Here is how Florence suggests you cook your turkey instead:

  1. The day before Thanksgiving, have a butcher cut your turkey into the breasts with wings, legs plus thighs, and bones.
  2. On Thanksgiving Day, cook the turkey segments on the stovetop, and then transfer to the oven for final cooking. You will start with the legs skin side down over medium heat seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook in extra virgin olive oil for about 10 minutes until the skin is browned. Do the same with the breast.
  3. Once browned, move to a roasting pan in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until an internal thermometer reads 155-160 degrees. Keep the bones in there for flavor, but discard before eating.
  4. On the stovetop, deglaze the pan you used to brown the turkey with an acid like lemon juice or white wine. This becomes part of your gravy. Add “bruised sage” where you rub the sage in your hand to release the flavor, along with lemon, garlic and turnips. Add cold water and cook for two hours, making sure the turkey’s browned bits mix in well.
  5. Once your turkey comes out of the oven, cover it with a foil tent, and it will stay warm for about an hour.
  6. Again, you will deglaze the roasting pan on the stovetop by scraping the browned bits and adding butter and flour to make a roux to thicken your gravy stock.
  7. With the gravy from step four, strain so it’s not cloudy, whisk, reduce, and season with sage and black pepper.

“Thanksgiving should be a wonderful event to share, not a chore,” Florence said.

Cook your turkey this way and you will be enjoying the food with your guests instead of spending the whole day peeking in your oven to check on your main course. Your guests will think you’re an expert, and you’ll get to sleep to a normal hour on Thanksgiving morning.